Meet the Austinite who's paying off student debt for an entire graduating class

May 20, 2019

Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images


Yesterday, Morehouse College in Atlanta gave Robert F. Smith an honorary doctorate, but that's not the part of this story you're going to remember. Robert had something very important to tell the roughly 400 graduating seniors. He's going to be pick up the tab for the entire class' student loan debt.

If you didn't know it, Morehouse  is a private, all-male, liberal arts, historically black college. In fact, it's one of the few remaining traditional liberal arts men's colleges in the US and tuition and fees are close to $27,000 per year.

So who is Robert F. Smith? He's a guy who was born in Colorado and went to Cornell to study mechanical engineering. Both his parents have PhD's, but Robert went to business school in New York City and worked at Goldman Sachs. He's the founder and CEO of  Vista Equity Partners and he's one of only 13 black billionaires on the planet. Robert lives here in Austin, but he also owns a home in Malibu that he boght from Real Housewife, Yoland Hadid, for $19.5 million.

Last year, "Forbes" ranked him as the 163rd richest person in America . . . worth about $4.4 billion. This year his fortune is up to $5 billion. He donated $1.5 million to Morehouse College in Atlanta just a few months ago, but he clearly wasn't finished with his philanthropy involving the college.

Watch the reactions of the faculty (behind him) and the students as the slow realization of his words takes hold. I mean, it's a pretty unbelievable thing.

One estimate is that it will wipe out roughly $40 MILLION of student debt.